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Key Capitol Hill Hearings

Series/Special. Speeches from policy makers and coverage from around the country. (Stereo)




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Alaska 27, America 17, Us 16, North Dakota 12, Illinois 10, U.s. 10, Millett 8, Mr. Durbin 8, United States 7, Ms. Murkowski 6, Heitkamp 4, Mr. Baucus 4, Ireland 4, Montana 4, United States Congress 3, Chiesa 3, Mr. Mcconnell 3, Patricia Millett 2, Alice 2, United 2,
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  CSPAN    Key Capitol Hill Hearings    Series/Special. Speeches from policy makers  
   and coverage from around the country. (Stereo)  

    October 30, 2013
    4:00 - 6:01pm EDT  

quorum call:
quorum call:
quorum call:
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senior senator from alaska is recognized. ms. murkowski: thank you, mr. president. i request the proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. ms. murkowski: mr. president, i would ask unanimous consent at this time to enter into a colloquy with my colleague from north dakota. the presiding officer: is there objection? so ordered. ms. murkowski: thank you, mr. president. i rise today to speak to an issue that in my state of alas alaska, in the state of north dakota, quite honestly so many of our home states, we have -- we have facts, we have statistics, we have issues that face our indigenous peoples, most particularly our indigenous children, that, truth be told, these statistics are -- are not what we want to write home
about. in fact, in many, many cases, these statistics are shameful and the effort and the initiative to make a difference in the lives of -- of the children of our first peoples is an effort that i want to speak to today and join with my colleague from north dakota in -- in addressing this issue. i want to help shine a light on the conditions facing indigenous children in our country, for whom the united states has a legal commitment. this is a federal trust responsibility that is owed to these children. and i would like to thank senator heitkamp for -- for her commitment, for her compassion to address these issues facing our nation's indigenous children by introducing legislation to establish the commission on native children.
and i will -- i will defer to my colleague so we can have a conversation about this, but i think it's important to note that it was the very first time, mr. president, that i had ever met senator heitkamp. we literally exchanged handshakes, introduced ourselves and within five minutes we were talking about children's issues, native children's issues. in our respective states. and that little five-minute discussion led to much further discussion later on and a commitment to work to address these. so, mr. president, i -- die have many remarks that i would -- so, mr. mr. president, i do have many remarks that i would like to make this afternoon, but i would like my colleague from north dakota, who has worked so
diligently on this issue, with rather staff working with my staff, to describe to our colleagues the legislation that today we are both introducing establishing the commission on native children. ms. heitkamp: thank you so much. mr. president? let me just tell -- start out with a story because i think a lot of us come to the united states senate with a lot of experiences, a lot of common experiences, and i think the senator from alaska and i have shared this common of experience, of seeing the despair, looking at the statistics, but, more importantly, being in, in my case, in indian country, in her case, working with indigenous people, and seeing so much more needs to be done. seeing the disparities in education. seeing the disparities in health care. seeing the disparities in housing. and -- and recognizing all of those things have huge consequences. seeing what high poverty does to
people who aren't given the right opportunities. and i think frequently and -- it's so important that we do something like this so that we can begin that process of educating our colleagues on how this situation is different. what are our experiences, if you haven't seen or been in indian country, if you haven't looked at the statistics, it -- it is alarming. it is absolutely alarming. and the one i want to give before i talk about our legislation is -- is -- is the statistic on mortality rates. in this country, child mortality has decreased by 9% since 2000. that's good news. we're paying more attention, doing better jobs at infancy, doing a better job raising our kids. the child mortality rate among native children has increased 15%. increased 15% at the same time
that it has decreased in this country 9%. and we've tried various programs, whether it's housing programs, education programs, higher education programs, but we know that this works better if we all work together and we work collaboratively. and i know a lot of people have suspicions about things called commissions, but i believe for the first time we will be pulling together the data regarding what is exactly the status of children -- native children all cross the united states of america -- all across the united states of america. and in alaska, alaska indigenous people, as well as alaskan folks. and -- and pulling those statistics together and saying, where do we begin to understand this problem differently and change outcomes? because if we keep doing what we're doing right now, we will fail the next generation of
native children. we will fail to do what we need to do. i'm -- i -- this is not a new issue for me. when i was attorney general, i spent a lot of time in indian country, a lot of time on indian issues. i want to just tell a story before i describe just briefly what this commission would do. tell a story. it's a story about a woman who showed up at a conference -- we were talking about trying to get resources to do a conference on juvenile crime on the reservations. and she -- she told the story about how she was dyslexic as a child and her mother was -- was not a very patient woman and she was waiting to go to a birthday party and she was sitting and looking out the window. and she would ask her mother every five minutes, is it time yet, are they going to come? and finally her mother out of frustration took this woman's hand, this little girl's hand, drug it across a nail that was on the window ledge back and forth and says, maybe now you'll remember. and she held up her hand, and you could still see the scars. and she said something i'll never forget, she said, "who
cares about me?" i looked out that window and i thought, who's going to come and help me? all across america, there are children looking out a window on -- in indian country and in -- in all of these very remote places, wondering who's going to care about them, who's going to help them. isn't that the job when we have trust obligations? isn't that the job of the united states congress? isn't that the job of all of us to care about all of our children? but yet these children are left behind time and time and time again. you'll read a story in the paper about an abducted child and -- and you don't realize that there could have been 10 children abducted off a reservation in north dakota. you don't read -- you don't read a story about trafficking in north dakota but it's happening. you don't read a story about child abuse and neglect and it's happening or failed schools, schools whose roofs are caving in because we haven't met our education obligation. and so what this commission would do is to bring attention
to this very important part of our population, the part that gets left behind, that no one looks out for and start saying, what are we going to do differently? what are we going to do differently for our children. these are all of our children. and i -- i can tell you that same passion that i felt -- i felt a kindred spirit when we began to talk about this issue with the senator from alaska and talk about how important it was for people to really understand those challenges and how important it was to prevent costs later on. if we just do a little head start. children in indian country going tcountry go tohead start at a l. their education system fails them. 50% of native kids graduate from high school compared to 75% in the white population. these statistics mean a lot and we all look at statistics. but behind each one of them is a young child struggling to make
something out of their lives in this world and wanting to believe that they matter. and so what we are doing today is introducing a commission on the status of indian children to simply say, you matter and we need to come up with different ideas and different solutions on how we're going to solve the problem. and i know that even though we share a -- i had a great opportunity to go to alaska and spend some time with the alaskan corporations and -- and the indigenous people in alaska, and it was a new experience for me because we're used to indian country, we're used to reservations. but so many of the challenges -- and i'm sure the -- the senator from alaska would agree -- so many of the challenges are so similar in alaska and north dakota, partly because of our remoteness but partly because these are obligations that have not been lived up to. and so i want to ask the great senator from alaska how she
thinks this commission could work to actually better the children, native children in our country. mrs. murkowski: well, i thank my colleague. ms. murkowski: as we work to advance opportunities for american indian, alaskan and native hawaiian children throughout the country, that we remember that these are not just statistics, as horrifying as the statistics are, those statistics really do come to life when -- when we hear those real stories. when we -- we're working with your office to -- to develop this legislation, kind of looking at the -- the indigenous children in this country through the lens of -- of the justice system, the education system, the health care system, and then
work to -- to provide recommendations to the respective government agencies that will help to address these issues that affect our native children. and we talk about the -- the trust responsibility. that trust responsibility doesn't mean anything unless we keep our commitment, and we're just simply not keeping the commitment. you mentioned the -- the issue of -- of housing and having had an opportunity to serve on the indian affairs committee now for ten years, to hear in committee hearing after committee hearing the situation with regards to housing and just the -- the inadequate situation on so many of our reservations in the state of alaska. our housing situation is truly a crisis in so many places. in bethel, which is probably -- i believe it's now our fourth or our fifth largest community in
the state, it's viewed as a -- as a hub community, so if you come in for health care from one of the surrounding villages, you would come into bethel. if you are -- if you are trying to escape an abusive situation, trying to get your children to safety, leaving the village, coming into bethel where there is a woman's shelter there where you can kind of pull yourself together. the problem then is when you have been able to pull yourself together, when your children feel like they are in a safe place right now, then there is no place for you to take your children. there is no housing out on the market there in bethel. so what happens time after time after time, the woman goes back to the abuser, the children go back to an abusive situation, a situation where domestic violence is -- is -- is
oftentimes out of control. let me speak to just some of the statistics that we're facing in dealing with rural justice in alaska. nearly 95% of the crimes in rural alaska can be traced back to alcohol abuse. by the time an alaska native reaches adulthood, the chance of experiencing domestic violence or sexual violence is 51% for women, 29% for men. our native children are 60% of the children that are in need of foster parents. i have been working on the issue of -- of fetal alcohol syndrome and how we raise awareness and how we eliminate this entirely preventable disease, and i think it's noteworthy that for years i worked with senator daschle, formerly of this body, and the majority leader on this initiative. but he knew that in the reservations in his state, we
were facing the same situation that we were in alaska with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. in alaska, we see fasd rates 15 times higher than -- excuse me. we have got the highest rate of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder in the nation, but in the -- in the native areas of the state, they are then 15 times higher than in any of the nonnative parts of the state. again, an area where you think about if we can make some inroads here in awareness, this is a disease that is 100% preventable. suicide, this is an issue that -- that really strikes home to far too many. alaska native males between the ages of 12-24 experience the highest rate of suicide of any demographic within the country.
we have got the highest rate of suicide per capita in the country, and it's our young native men who drive that statistic. when it comes to rape statistics, also a horrific example. unfortunately, the term has been applied that alaska is -- is the rape capital of america, and it is our native women, one in three, that are experiencing much of this sexual abusive. we cannot accept this reality. when we talk about infrastructure, i mentioned housing. when you think about the lack of public infrastructure and how that impacts the health of a child or the health of a family. we're still a relatively young state. you have heard me say 80% of our communities are not accessible by road.
we -- so we lack certain infrastructure, including in many, many of our villages basic water, basic sewer systems. we simply don't have it. so if you don't have clean water for cooking, for drinking, for cleaning, for just basic hygiene, it's -- it can be deadly for our families. the c.d.c. has determined that lack of in-home water services causes high rates of respiratory , skin infections. we see this in our rural native villages. the average toddler in -- in the u.s. gets r.s.v., which is the respiratory virus, before they are about 2 years old. the average alaska baby gets r.s.v. before they are 11 weeks old. so just mere infants. and they are getting this respiratory virus because of
sanitation issues. a lack of clean drinking water, waste water system leads to fever, leads to hepatitis, leads to infectious disease. then what happens? you're a child out in this small village. you are then sent in. your family has to take you in to anchorage. not just one airplane flight away. oftentimes two airplane flights, flights, $1,000-plus air, in the city where your costs are high. you think about the impact to a family when you have a sick elephant and an elephant who has been sick because their family lacks basic sanitation in this day and age. one of the -- one of the household chores -- we all had chores when we were growing up as kids. in far too many of our villages in the state of alaska, one of the chores the kids have is
emptying the honey bucket. for those who don't know what a honey bucket is, it's the big $5-gallon you get from home depot with the toilet seat lid on. it's put in the corner of the house. that's the bathroom. you have to take that be bucket out and dispose of it. and you have children. you know your 10-year-old walking down the boardwalk with a bucket of human waste to dump. mr. president, this is happening in this day and age. and who -- who again kind of bears the weight of so much of this is our native children. think about this from a health safety perspective. i want to -- i want to share a story, as my colleague from north dakota did, and i just
came from the alaska federation of natives annual conference. it's the largest gathering of natives in the country. they come from all corners of the state. it's really like a family reunion. usually, a very upbeat, very happy occasion where people come together for a great deal of sharing. this year, there was sharing on a personal side that perhaps we have not witnessed before, and much of the sharing came from the children, and the sharing rather than stories of happiness and opportunities for the future, was driven by a feeling of not helplessness, because if you're helpless, you won't speak up, but a feeling that we can no longer remain silent, that the
instances of domestic violence in the home, of the child sexual assault in the home, of the -- the alcoholism and the drug abuse that brings about attempted suicide in the home caused a group of 4-h kids from tanaha, alaska, to come together, about a half a dozen of them, ages maybe 6, 7 up to high school to stand in front of an audience of 3,000-plus people and say we've had enough. we have to speak out. even though we have been told don't talk about this, don't talk about this because it might shame your family, these children had the courage to step forward and say this is not
right. we are taught to respect our elders, but when our elders don't respect us, we are going to speak out. their courage in front of this huge gathering was amazing. and it's not unlike the story that my colleague from north dakota has just said. when that young girl looked out the window and said who -- who will come and take care of me? who is waiting for me? these children from tanana were saying we are not -- we are not going to be quiet. it ought to be us. it ought to be the grown-ups that are saying let's take charge of this. let's turn these horrible statistics around. let's make every day a better day for our children. those kids are the real heroes.
so, mr. president, when i -- when i come together with my colleague in an effort like this -- and i'm with you. oftentimes we say oh, commissions, what do commissions do? well, maybe, maybe this starts to give some of these young people hope. whether you're on the reservations of north dakota or you're in tanana, alaska. maybe there is hope that the grown-ups out there are listening and can work with them. we are trying to hook at this holisticcally, through the education system, the health care system and through the justice system. and i am, i am really quite pleased to be able to work with my colleague on this initiative. i don't think that there is -- there is anything more important that we can be doing for our young people than to offer them a ray of hope, so i thank my colleague from north dakota and all that she has done to get us to this point.
ms. heitkamp: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota is recognized. ms. heitkamp: suicide is the second leading cause of death among native american young adults, ages 15-24. it is two and a half times the national average. and the despair my great friend from the state of alaska has just outlined for you seems that that's the only way out, that no one is looking, that they are invisible, that their problems are inconsequential and no one cares, and yes, i can thank my colleague from alaska for that wonderful example of this commission tells them they are not invisible to us, they are not invisible to the united states congress, they are not invisible to the administration, that people are there and they care. and maybe it offers that hope and maybe it offers that opportunity to tell more of
these stories and to shine a greater light of awareness onto this problem. it is a national disgrace. and if we continue to do what we have always done in housing and in education and in health care and in public safety, if we continue to do what we have always done, we have lose yet another generation to despair. it is time for the united states congress to step up, honor their treaty obligations and recognize that if we cannot protect the smallest among us, the most vulnerable, the most remote among us, then we aren't worthy of this body, we aren't worthy of this government. so i -- i invite all of our colleagues to join with us and send the message loud and clear to native children in our country that they matter, they matter at their homes and in their communities, they matter
in their state, they matter in their clubs, in their schools, but they also matter in the halls of the united states senate. and so i thank you and i yield my time. ms. murkowski: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senior senator from alaska is recognized. ms. murkowski: if i may just close out my comments here, senator heitkamp has -- has honored an individual, alice spotted bear, with naming this commission on native american children after alice spotted bear and she has invited me to also include a leader on so many education and children's issues, and if i could just take a moment to speak to the contributions of a great
alaskan, dr. walter sibalef who senator heitkamp has honored alaskans by including dr. sibalef with the naming of this children's commission. dr. sibalef i was very honored to know. he passed away in 2011 at the age of 102 years old. in our state he was an elder statesman, he was a spiritual leader, an alaskan native advocate that championed native rights and cultural education, the first alaska native to serve on the state board of education, he served as chairman, established the alaska native studies department at the university of alaska fairbanks to ensure our native students could be taught their language and culture within that university system. clearly when you're 102 years old you live through a transition of time, but he lived through a transition for our native people in our state and he advocated to ensure that
our state's education system recognized that native students must know their culture in order to know who they are, they need to know where they have come from, they need to know their culture, how to hunt, how to fish and that their culture is the foundation of a strong identity, ensuring student success and pride in oneself and when i thought about how we might be able to recognize one of alaska's own who really has demonstrated that to our young people if you know yourself, if you know your culture, if you are proud of that, even under some daunting challenges, you can move forward. you can persevere. so i thank my colleague for giving me this opportunity to show him recognition as we also honor alice spotted bear.
and with that, mr. president, i thank you. the presiding officer: the senator from montana. mr. baucus: the named author george bernard shaw wrote and i'm quoting him, the reasonable man adapts himself to the world. the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. a few weeks ago lost along the headlines about shutdowns and showdowns was another very important news story. this story didn't receive big headlines, didn't make the evening news and wasn't trending on twitter. yet the story on october 8 edition of "the new york times" has serious implications for the future of our economy and our ability to adapt to the modern world. the eye opening article discussed the merger of a california-based chip maker called applied materials,
applied materials merged with a japanese company called tokyo electron. applied materials is one of the biggest companies in silicon valley with a global presence. they have more than 13,000 employees across 18 countries. their headquarters where they got their start 46 years ago is in santa clara, california. in addition to 8,000 workers in the bay area in california, applied materials has employees at research and development and manufacturing facilities in texas and utah and massachusetts and in my home state of montana. but now with the merger, the tokyo alocation tron this -- electron, this all american company is shifting its incorporation, not to japan but to the netherlands. that's right, this new american japanese company will be incorporated in holland. why are they moving to the netherlands? what's going on?
let me read you part of that "new york times" article on the merger. reporter david gill it's writes -- quote -- "executives at applied materials highlighted a number of advantages announcing a merger recently with a smaller japanese rival. but an important one was barely mentioned, lower taxes. continuing quoting the "new york times," the mernlingsd company will save millions of dollars a year by moving not to one side of the pacific or another but by reincorporating in the netherlands. the article goes on to note that applied materials' tax rate twill will drop from 22% to 17% as a result of the merger. for a company with nearly $2 billion of profits in 2011 that amounts to a savings of about $100 million a year. mergers resulted in u.s. companies being owned by companies in tax haven jurisdictions like the islands, or the cayman islands are a new spin on the old inversion program and it's becoming an
increasingly popular practice. the times article highlighted the following additional examples. last year, eaton corporation from ohio acquired cooper industries based in ireland for $13 billion. and then what did it do, reincorporated in ireland. the company expects to save $160 million a year as a result of the move. in july, omicron, the new york advertising group agreed to merge with its french rival roifl in a $35 billion deal. the new company will be based in the netherlands resulting in savings of about $80 billion a year. also in july parago a pharmaceutical company from michigan said it would acquire elan an irish company for $6.7 billion. they wilt reincorporate in ireland lowering its rate from 37% to 17% and saving the
company an estimated $150 million a year, much of it in taxes. earlier in the year activists based in new jersey bought warner chillcott in dublin and said it would rye incorporate in ireland leading to $150 million in savings over two years. it would be easy for us to attack these companies for calling them immoral or inpatriotic. -- unpatriotic but it's much more constructive to step back and asked ask what's motivating these companies, why are they moving abroad, how can we keep them in the united states and adapt to the world and fix the problem? it's really a simple issue. globalization has made america's tax code out of date. the u.s. is stuck with a 35% corporate rate one of the high nest the world and a maze of incentives that only an army of tax lawyers can navigate. some of these tax incentives are
costly but are much less valuable to businesses than a rate reduction with the same price tag. when u.s. companies look abroad, what do they see? they see other countries with more modern, more efficient, more competitive tax codes. then what do they do? they reincorporate, merging or acquiring with another business. they are not necessarily breaking the law. in fact, many of these companies are following the rules that america's outdated overly complicated tax code provides. but the united states is losing hundreds of millions in revenue as a result. even worse, it's losing jobs. when headquarters move abroad, good-paying jobs often go abroad, too. we need to reverse that tide. we need to bring our tax system into the 21st century and make the u.s. more competitive. that's what tax reform can do. it can help america overcome the
competitiveness crisis driving businesses and jobs overseas. this crisis, this competitiveness crisis was made very clear in a harvard business school study last year. with the sobering title "prosperity at risk." this in-depth report examined the risks that threaten competitiveness in the global marketplace and looked at what action we can take in the united states to restore our country's economic vitality. harvard business school surveyed 10,000 graduates who conduct business worldwide. they asked about the challenges of doing business in america. these individuals are leaders, leaders on their front lines of the global economy, c.e.o.'s and business owners and presidents. they are personally involved in decisions about whether to hire, where to locate, and which markets to serve. and, unfortunately, these business leaders are pessimistic
about america's economic future. they think america's prosperity or success, our growth and economic status is at serious risk. the vast majority of those surveyed, 71%, expected u.s. competitiveness to deteriorate over the next several years. the survey found that the u.s. fared poorly when competing to attract business and pointed to increased competition from emerging markets. according to the survey -- and i quote -- "for the first time in decades, the business environment in the united states is in danger of falling behind the rest of the world" -- end quote. and what did they identify as the root of america's competitiveness problem? respondents -- these are 10,000 harvard business school graduates, working all around the world including the united states -- those folks pointed to america's tax code as the root of the problem.
specifically, they pointed to the complexity of the code as one of the greatest current or emerging weaknesses in the u.s. business environment. the harvard study made clear our current tax code puts american businesses at a competitive disadvantage on the world market. that should obviously concern us. so where do we go from here? i believe we have to reform our tax code. we have to adapt. we have to help make america more competitive. it's pretty clear, pretty simple, give companies like applied materials a reason to keep their headquarters here in the united states. we have been through a difficult and counterproductive period here on capitol hill, the recent shutdown, the threat of default undermined confidence in the u.s. and did $24 billion in unnecessary damage to our economy. according to a report from the white house council of vic advisors, the shutdown cost 120,000 jobs in october alone.
i just spent last week home in my state as others here are in their state, meeting with my bosses, the citizens of montana and are not too happy with the antics going on here in washington, d.c. rightly so. fortunately that battle is behind us. and the government is back to work. it's time for us to come together to tackle the challenges facing our country. right now there are more than 11 million unemployed americans looking for work. our economy is expected to continue growing at a sluggish rate the next year, less than 3%. so we have to ask how do we create jobs? how can we spark faster growth in our economy? how can we boost our competitiveness and keep american companies here at home in america? tax reform must be part of the solution. it's not the whole solution, but it's part of the solution. that was the clear message i
heard traveling around the country this summer with my friend dave camp. dave is the chairman of the house ways and means committee. dave and i met with families and businesses, large and small, to hear about their experiences in dealing with the tax code. we visited a family-owned bakery in minneapolis, a small appliance store in new jersey and a farm in tennessee. we visited some large companies as well, companies like 3-6r7b-m, intel, and fed ex to employ thousands of people around the world. at every stop dave and i heard the same message, u.s. companies and workers, companies large and small, workers from -- employed at large and small companies want a more simple, more fair tax code that closes loopholes and helps them compete and strengthens our economy. this issue is not going away. it's too important. with so many people out of work, with economic growth
still too slow, with the competitiveness gap costing us jobs and revenue, it's time for us to act. it's time for us to reform our tax code. the chairman of the house and senate budget committees brought their conferees together for the first time today. them come together for a plan to rebuild confidence in our economy. patty murray and paul ryan are incredibly smart and incredibly hardworking people. they care and i'm confident they can craft a compromise to help get america back on track. i look forward to working with chairman murray and chairman ryan on the tax and entitlement components of the discussions, but at the same time i will continue to work on a parallel track on the finance committee. we're working hard in bernard shaw's words to adapt to the world and build a tax code that works. and dave camp is doing the same
thing in the house. we're going down separate paths but coming together with a common goal: reducing the deficit, creating jobs, promoting economic growth. we're coming together to put america back on track. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
the presiding officer: the senator from montana. mr. baucus: mr. president, i ask further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. baucus: mr. president, i ask that all time be yielded back. the presiding officer: without objection. the question occurs on the nomination. mr. baucus: mr. president, i ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be a sufficient second. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
the presiding officer: are there any senators wishing to vote or wishing to change their vote? if not, the vote on this matter is 62 ayes, 35 nays. the nomination is confirmed. mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent the motion to reconsider be considered made
and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate, that the president be -- the presiding officer: may we have order, please. the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: i ask unanimous consent the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate and the president be immediately notified of the senate's action. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. mr. durbin: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that cloture on calendar number 63 be withdrawn and that the senate proceed to vote on confirmation of the nomination, the motion to reconsider be made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate and that no further motions be in order, that the president be immediately notified of the senate's action. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. under the previous order, the motion to invoke cloture on the lew nomination is withdrawn. is there any further debate? mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: hearing none, all those in favor please say aye.
those opposed say no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the nomination is confirmed. mr. durbin: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent the cloture vote on the watt nomination occur immediately following the swearing-in of senator-elect booker of new jersey tomorrow and the senate proceed to legislative session and a period of morning business for debate only with senators permitted to speak therein for up to 10 minutes each. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: mr. president, could we have order in the senate. the presiding officer: may we have order, please.
the minority leader. mr. mcconnell: mr. president, we all know today is senator chiesa's last day in the senate, and while the senator's only been here four months, it's been an interesting few months, to say the least. he's found himself right in the middle of everything from the farm bill to the immigration bill to the debate over syria, to an october i'm sure he'll not soon forget. he's had to work out of a temporary office complete with vinyl siding and plastic chairs. he was here for less than an hour before having to take his first vote. he's had to deal with 99 senators pronouncing his name 99 different ways. and one of our colleagues from arizona threatened to -- quote -- "waterboard" the senator if he didn't support a particular bill. well, i haven't asked how that
situation ended up working out, but i see the senator from new jersey is still here. bottom line -- senator chiesa is going to have quite a few stories for his family, for his wife, ginny, and his kids al and hannah. i know he's eager to get back home to see them and catch up on some notre dame football, too. even though he tells us his rank is fourth out of four in the family pecking order. well, that's at least better than 100th out of 100. but senator chiesa has lent his -- hasn't let his lack of senate seniority stack in the way of pushing important issues. human trafficking was his focus as attorney general and it's been his focus here as well. he helped convene committee hearings about it. he's raised the issue with administration officials. he's embarked on a series of school visits to educate young folks on the issue. and he's worked with the junior
senator from ohio to advance awareness through the caucus to end human trafficking. his determination is something we all admire. i know a lot of it comes from his strong catholic faith. much of it must come from his upbringing, too. this is a senator who lost his father and was forced to become the man of the house when he was just 8 years old. last year, the senator said th this. "if someone had ever said 20 years from now you'd be the attorney general of new jersey, i would have laughed. i didn't think i'd even have met the attorney general by the age of 46." well, i might say, the senator's done a lot more than that. he can add senator to his resu resume, too. a senator who's made the most of his time here, who's done good work, who we've all enjoyed getting to know. so, senator, be proud of your
service here. we thank you for it, and we look forward to welcoming our newest colleague from new jersey tomorrow. i yield the floor. mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: let me before i make these remarks join in thanking our senate colleague from new jersey. though his tenure here was brief, he was here during a very exciting and interesting time in american political history. we thank him for his service. on behalf of new jersey and wish him the very best in his future endeavorsmenendeavors. mr. president, the president of the united states has nominated three extraordinary americans, patricia millett, georgetown law professor nina pillard, and d.c. district judge robert wilkins to serve on the d.c. circuit court, the second most important court
in the nation. the d.c. circuit currently has eight active judges out of 11 authorized judgeships. these nominees deserve an up-or-down vote on the senate floor. patricia millett is the first nominee up for consideration. miss millett, currently in private practiced, is recognized as one of the leading appellate lawyers in america. she has argued 32 -- 32 -- cases before the supreme court, doesens before the appellate courts. she's served in the solicitor general's office under both democratic and republican president. seven former solicitors general, including prominent republicans, like paul clement, ted olson and ken starr, sent letters in support of miss millett, and they said -- and i quote -- "she has a brilliant mind, a gift for clear, persuasive writing, and a genuine zeal for the rule of law." equally important, she is unfailingly fair-minded." end of quote from three previous
republican solicitor generals. at her hearing before the senate judiciary committee, no senator, not one, questioned miss millett's qualifications, her fitness for the federal bench. she is simply by every measurable standard an outstanding nominee. let me tell you why i have a personal interest in her nomination. miss millett is a proud daughter of illinois. she grew up in marine, illinois, a small town in madison county that i know well. her mother was a nurse. her father was a history professor at southern illinois university et wardsville, one -- edwardsville, one of my favorite campuses. miss millett graduated summa cum laude from the university of illinois, magna cum laude from harvard law school. in addition to all this, she is part of a proud military family.
her husband, robert king, served in the navy and was deployed as part of operation iraqi freedom. miss millett comes from a high highly -- comes highly recommended by many distinguished members of the illinois legal community. i received a letter from patrick fitzgerald, the former u.s. attorney for the northern district of illinois, expressing strong support for miss millett's nomination and urging prompt consideration of her candidacy on the merits. i also received a letter from 28 prominent attorneys, including former illinois governor -- republican governor, james thompson, and current illinois state bar association president, paula holderman. they expressed strong support for miss mill lel and they said -- and i quote -- "she embodies the evenhandedness, impartiality and objectivity required for the federal judiciary, as evidenced by more than 10 years of service in the solicitor's general office in both the clinton and bush administrations." mr. president, the bottom line is that miss millett is an
outstanding nominee with broad support across the political spectrum. there is no question she's well qualified to serve on the bench and would serve with distincti distinction. i urge my colleagues to give her a chance with an up-or-down vo vote. she does not deserve to have her nomination filibustered. if there is anyone who can step forward and question this nominee's qualification, they should do so. they haven't to date. some of my republican colleagues have accused the president of trying to -- quote -- pack the d.c. circuit by making nominations to fill the outstanding vacancies in that court. this argument is simply not credible. filling vacancies for existing judgeships is not court packing. these judgeships are authorized by law, and it's incumbent upon the president to nominate qualified candidates to fill that. others across a